Z-Cars composer has died

Z-Cars composer has died


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2015

Johnny Keating, who composed the high-fluting theme tune (from an original folk song) for the BBC Merseyside cop series, has died in London, aged 87. Edinburgh born, he lived in London and Los Angeles but was always drawn back to Scotland.

johnny keating


  • Nigel says:

    ‘Z-Cars Composer’ died a while ago! The composers (basing their theme on the tune ‘Johnny Todd’) were Bridget Fry (credited as such on the record illustrated) and her then-husband Fritz Spiegel (the two of them were credited in the end credits of Z-Cars). Johnny Keating was one of several bandleaders and arrangers to record the theme early on – and his was apparently the most commercially successful record. But he really wasn’t the ‘Z-Cars Composer’.

  • Ks. Cristopher Robson says:

    I was also going to point out the mistake as Nigel above has done. I used to sing an awful lot for Fritz SPIEGL back in the 1970’s & early 1980’s (The Spieglers) and visited his amazing house in Liverpool many times. He was earning constant royalties/residuals even then for the neat and simple adaptation/reworking of “Johnny Todd” he collaborated on with his first wife Bridget Fry. By being recorded by so many different bands in the 60’s and 70’s it turned into a neat little earner for them over many years. 🙂

    • Nigel says:

      It’s nice to be reminded of the amazing Spiegel household! I, too, visited Fritz several times in that extraordinary building – but only towards the end of his life by which time he’d become very deaf. (I was often a house-guest with his next door neighbours, but they subsequently moved to Brighton).

  • Ks. Cristopher Robson says:

    I forgot to add to my previous comment, that Fritz Spiegl also wrote the title music for the BBC’s spin off series from “Z Cars”, the gritty series “Softly, Softly”. 🙂

    • Halldor says:

      The fact that the Z Cars theme is played at every Everton FC home game will certainly have helped its earning power!

      And of course the great Fritz Spiegl also arranged the much-missed Radio 4 UK Theme. In slaughtering what it smugly thought of as a sacred cow of Middle England, the BBC was actually silencing an expression of love for his adopted country by an exiled Viennese Jewish musician turned proud Scouser.

  • CDH says:

    Does nothing ever get checked around here?